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Environment

Renewables overtake coal in the UK energy mix for the first time

Thanks to an increase in solar panels and wind turbines, as well as a particularly sunny and windy quarter, renewable energy has supplied a record 25% of the UK’s energy mix in Q2 2015, leapfrogging coal for the first time to come into second place behind gas fired electricity. It’s nearly a 10% increase on the same period last year.Read More

Transparent coating keeps solar cells cool and efficient throughout the day

Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.Read More

Dose of household vinegar found to kill off reef-eating starfish

The crown-of-thorns starfish poses a major threat to the wellbeing of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Wild, uncontrollable outbreaks over the past few decades have seen the pests multiply to devour vast amounts of coral, and as it stands there's little that can be done. One method conservationists have used to some effect is injecting them with ox bile, but researchers have now discovered that a simple dose of vinegar can do much the same job, promising to significantly cut the cost of an expensive battle to rid a World Heritage Site of this damaging pest.Read More

Scientists use new catalysis method to boost biodiesel yields

Biofuels can be made from various source materials such as waste from the winemaking industry and woody biomass. Reseachers are also looking for new methods to improve its environmental credentials as there is still controversy as to how green biofuels really are. Now, a team at the Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University is hoping to make biofuel production more efficient and sustainable by recycling the leftovers from the process.Read More

Kirigami-inspired solar cells twist to track the sun

One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible, it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however, University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative – and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.Read More

Coffee grounds recycled as carbon capture material

Coffee grounds are not exactly noxious despoilers of the environment, but many millions of tons of them are generated every year and simply disposed of with other vegetable matter and food waste. Now, researchers have devised a way to utilize this innocuous waste product to get rid of a much more dangerous one. By modifying used coffee grounds into a carbon capture material, the new product may provide a simple, inexpensive way to remove a prolific and harmful greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.Read More

Compostable electronics could ease the e-waste problem

Some day soon your obsolete gadgets could be as compostable as banana peels and spent coffee grounds. Researchers from the Young Investigator Network at Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) in Germany are developing printed electronics from natural and compostable materials that could help make a dent in the millions of tons of electronic waste piling up worldwide each year.Read More

Nanotech could rid cattle of ticks, with less collateral damage

If you've ever used tick medicine on your dog, then you're probably aware of how toxic the stuff is. Well, it's used on cows too, and it can end up in their meat, milk, or the surrounding environment. Fortunately, however, scientists at the National University of Mexico have developed a new type of tick treatment for cattle that is reportedly much less toxic than what's currently used.Read More

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